Thursday, December 10, 2009

Open Source Art

Well I've been sitting on this blog post for weeks...and I don't mean it's been sitting in blogger waiting for me to hit publish, I mean the whole thing has been written up in my mind, spell-checked and all, (though I can't vouch for the grammar) just waiting to sit down at a keyboard and let the thoughts come out.

Speaking of which -- when are we going to get the implants? I'm not sure I'm ready to have my whole computer implanted in my brain, but despite my above-average typing speed, I can still think a lot faster than I type. I need to learn dvorak, that would help...

...but I digress...

It's no secret, at least I think it's no secret, and after this confession it most certainly will be no secret, that I love flickr. According to flickr, I joined in March of 2005, so that means that we're just shy of 5 years together. I love that, with a Pro account anyway, you can upload all pretty much all the photos you could ever imagine taking. I love the metadata that flickr lets you put on your photos, like tags, notes, and geodata. I love the social aspect of flickr (I'd even go as far as to say that many people were talking to other people on flickr long before facebook) and I love how they'll run analytics on your photos. Here's my most viewed photo. It's also my most favorited. Here's my most interesting (As determined by Flickr) photo, and here's my photo with the most comments.

Another thing I love is open source software. A quick survey of my currently running apps...ok I don't have anything running right now that's open source, but that doesn't change the fact that many apps I love and depend on are open source.

I wish I could contribute more to the Open Source community, but I'm not a coder. One way I've tried to contribute to things, however, is through making my Photos "Open Source." I do this through a Creative Commons license. Most of my photos are licensed with a "Attribution-Share Alike" license. This is, as far as I know, is the closest to the OpenGPL license put on most Open Source software. This means people are free to use my photos however they want, but I ask that -- in return -- people who use my photos give me credit, and share their work the same way I am sharing mine. I don't, by default, license my photos for commercial use.

Is there anything to govern this? Well not exactly. If I found somebody using one of my images commercially, I could technically press charges, but really how would I ever know if my photo of ____ were being used by ____ in China? I'd never know!

Some really cool things can come of this plentiful sharing though.

Remember how I just said I'd never know if somebody was using my image? Well I lied. That's not completely true. There is the possibility that I'll bump into some of my work sooner or later. For example, when I came home from my mission, I was trying to explain to somebody online where I'd been for 2 years. I looked up the Wikipedia article on LDS Missionaries, and...wait a minute! There's my photo. I'm published!

Now sometimes people actually tell you when they use your photos, and that's always a very polite and nice thing to do. Sometimes they tell you, because they are asking permission to use a different license on your photo than the one you originally placed. This is what happened to me recently.

A few weeks ago I got an email...

The image he was referring to was this one, from a set of photos that I took years ago, after my dad had just purchased his first Saab. I like stuff, I like the design and look of stuff, so naturally I like to take photos of stuff. These photos were taken long before I owned a professional-grade camera or RAW processing software. Of course I offered these to share, but I never imagined that somebody would actually want to use them -- especially in print!

Here's the finished product:




Here's all the other materials, along with a hand-written letter from the head designer on the project.




View all the printed materials (PDF)

In photography, especially as sophisticated photographic equipment capable of producing high-quality images becomes more accessible, there seems to be a growing trend to watermark, copyright, and lock down every image a photographer takes. Now certainly if you have a commercial interest in photography, there are reasons for this and I completely support this decision, but if you're out taking cool pictures, perhaps you'll consider sharing just a few of your best, or maybe your favourite even if they're not your best, photos with the community at large. You never know, you might be published!

5 comments:

hillary.ashman said...

SICK!! i wish my photos were published.

Rubie Huber said...

eri

Rubie Huber said...

whoops, I meant to say Way to go Ryan! :)

pixelbuffer said...

It was a delight to find and use your photo Ryan! Thanks for helping a cause for safety!

Becks said...

Ryan that is completely awesome! I wish I took more stock photography-like pictures. One of these days I'll get around to open sourcing . . . Once I take photos that people would want to use . . .